Day 7 of #KateKimEuropa2015
We’re getting the hang of our schedule, waking up early to get to the train station, grab a cup of cappuccino and croissant to dispense of our change in the currency of the country we’re departing, board a train, grab a taxi to our Airbnb apartment or hotel, rest for a bit, then take a stroll as we look for a place to have dinner.
In Salzburg, we were very close to the Old Town, which made it convenient for us to have some scrumptious, traditional Austrian dinner like potato mash and goulash! We went to Gasthof Alter Fuchs, which kept the thematic look of a medieval inn where hunters meet for dinner, but has an updated aesthetic. Lights were bright and tables were modern and clean. The food was all but modern- it’s traditional Austrian home cooking at its best, and just glorious.
Day 8 of #KateKimEuropa2015
Walking along the Schwarzstrasse along the Salch River early on Sunday morning when it’s peaceful and serene is such a gift in Salzburg. My sister and I headed out early to do just this. A woman and her son were looking for open bakeries. We walked down to the river to take pictures by the bridge, against a backdrop of a calm river, autumn foliage and rolling hills.
This is the city centre- and it’s a quaint town with beautiful landscapes, cute buildings, and Mozart being played in the streets. After all, this is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. After we’ve absorbed the view and the autumn air as best we could, we went to the MozartGasthaus, where Mozart lived. We also went to the Franciscan church of Salzburg nearby, as well as the Dom zu Salzburg, or Salzburg Cathedral. These were very historical places and being there makes you feel connected to history, to events that happened centuries ago. It made me contemplative of humanity, how we’ve progressed as a race and society, and how far we’ve come in advancing ideas and technology. We’ve come far since the middle ages in terms of cultural, technological and creative production, but I think some of the challenges of society– inequality, slavery, fraud– remain.
Of course, we can’t leave Salzburg without having seen the Mirabell Gardens. In fact, we saw it twice, and perhaps passed by it a few more times. While we were there, there was a harpist playing at the entrance of the garden. He was perhaps in his 30s, a tall, lanky blond man with long hair tied neatly. The sound was beautiful, and it was a gift to behold because we don’t always get to hear harp being played around, even in church or orchestras. The rarity of such an experience, as well as the impeccable technique used to play the instrument was definitely a blessing that took hold of our ears.
That afternoon, we also participated in a musical tour that took us around the many different areas where they shot scenes of the American classic, The Sound of Music. From the Mirabell Gardens, to the gazebo (pictured above) where Liezl and her Nazi soldier had a romantic moment, to the Von Trapp villa.
We also passed by some beautiful sights such as the town of Mondsee with its picture-perfect lake that displayed the colors of autumn in a beautiful array, against a backdrop of mountains near and far, a tranquil lake, and a sleepy Austrian village with quaint houses.
We also stopped by the local church of Mondsee, designed in Baroque style.
In Salzburg, I discovered what Austrian coffeehouse culture is like. Many have spoken about this, in magazines, books, and conversations, and I never understood how special it was, how different it was from French or Italian coffeehouse culture. We went to Cafe Bazar along the Schwazstrasse, a historical cafe where famed writers, politicians, philosophers and actresses spent a lot of time.
So, in a nutshell, Austrian coffeehouse culture is marked by great coffee, earnest service and luxury of time. I think time is the most important thing you buy in an Austrian cafe. Buying a cup of coffee allows you to spend time in a coffeeshop, catching up with friends, writing a novel, or reading newspapers or magazines available to patrons. Coffee is served on a silver platter by a wonderfully well-dressed waitstaff, who would also encourage you to try any number of intricately created Austrian desserts, like the classic Sacher Torte. There’s also a style of coffee that’s typically Austrian, which is called Cafe Melange– espresso with milk and a dollop of cream on top!
You’re always seated in an Austrian cafe, as you would be in a restaurant. They give you a menu where you can order breakfast, light lunch or dinner. Some places even have a separate menu for coffee and desserts– it’s that special.
Isn’t it inspiring that an activity most of us think of as mundane is treated with such regard and art in Austria? It’s definitely a product of tradition, emblazoned by years of customs and appreciation for a cup of roast 🙂
What other things do we have in our daily lives that we tend to overlook, but can be infused with new life if we just pay more attention to it, devote time and effort in making it a true craft?
As I think about this, I’ve learned that paying attention to mundane things start off as tedious and insignificant, because who has the time of day or motivation to think about common things that blend into the background such as walking, grabbing coffee, speaking, etc? The solution to this, that I’ve found, is a combination of rituals and a habit of gratitude. Rituals allow us to keep a steady pace in our lives, collecting many habits into a symphony that make up our everyday life. A habit of gratitude allows us to pay attention to these rituals as well as new experiences that slightly alter these rituals.
The secret is to keep a steady pace by continuing to commit to good habits we want to form, as well as being ready to seek gratitude even in situations where it may seem like there’s not a whole lot to be thankful for. The more we seek something, the more we find it, and little by little, this act allows us to surface more joys and blessings in our lives.